Agriculture emissions and wood burning in Defra spotlight

A government minister has highlighted ongoing work to reduce emissions from sources including domestic wood burning, as part of efforts to improve air quality in the UK.

Lord Gardiner of Kimble, under-secretary of state at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) was speaking during a debate on air and water pollution in the House of Lords on Thursday (26 October).

Lord Gardiner of Kimble, Defra minister

During the debate, the minister reiterated the government’s commitment to bringing forward a Clean Air Strategy in 2018 – which will draw together measures to tackle air pollution from a wide range of non-transport sources.

He said: “We will be bringing forward a new clean air strategy for consultation next year and listen with interest to views on whether we can improve our existing regulatory framework. However, more legislation is not always the answer, and we are determined to get on and tackle the problem with the many tools already at our disposal.”

The minister also pointed to forthcoming introduction of legislation to address emissions from medium combustion plants, which he described as a ‘significant and largely unregulated source of air pollution’.

Ready to Burn

On emissions from domestic wood burning, Lord Gardiner detailed the ‘Ready to Burn’ scheme, an initiative being led by Defra and the stove-manufacturing industry, which aims to ensure that consumers buying wood fuel for burning only source wood with a moisture content below 20%.

Lord Gardiner said: “Domestic wood and coal burning accounts for 39% of total harmful particulate emissions. Last month the Government launched the Ready to Burn scheme, working with industry and retailers to persuade households to shift from wet unseasoned wood to ready-to-burn wood.”

The ‘Ready to Burn’ initiative is a certification scheme for dry firewood logs where they are able to demonstrate through audit and fuel testing that woodfuel they sell as ‘Ready to Burn’, and is therefore likely to produce lower particulate emissions.

Launched in September, the scheme aims to ensure that consumers are able to source dry wood that has been properly sourced and seasoned or kiln dried.

Emissions from domestic wood burning have been in the spotlight in recent weeks after the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, called for greater powers to combat pollution from non-road sources, in particular for the creation of zones where the burning of solid fuel is not allowed.

Elsewhere, Lord Gardiner also highlighted emissions from agricultural activities, which he said amount to over 80% of UK ammonia emissions.

He said: “To reduce this, we have provided practical help for farmers through the Farming Ammonia Reduction Grant Scheme, which has funded slurry store covers, and can reduce emissions by up to 80% during slurry storage. We are also providing on-farm advice.”